What Factors Lead to a Truck Accident?
Large truck accidents are responsible for a multitude of devastating injuries and damage. In the last reporting year, more than 160,000 people were injured in traffic collisions involving a large truck. Nearly 69% of injury victims were the occupants of passenger vehicles.
The most common factors leading a truck accident involve human error, including:
- Inaction from the truck driver, usually due to inexperience or a lack of training
- Driver fatigue
- Lack of familiarity with the roadway
- Poor truck maintenance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Improperly loaded cargo
In an effort to curb human error, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has numerous laws and regulations governing truck drivers and large trucks.
Are There Laws and Regulations for Truck Drivers?
Truck drivers must adhere to the laws and regulations set forth by the FMCSA. Some of the most important truck accident laws for truck drivers include:
- Licensing Requirements: Truck drivers can have one license from their home state after they pass the skills and knowledge tests.
- Special Training and Physical Requirements: Truck drivers undergo special training to operate large tractor-trailers and flatbed trucks. They also must pass a physical exam every two years.
- Controlled Substances: Truck drivers cannot operate trucks under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, and they also cannot carry alcohol with them unless it is cargo.
- Hours of Service: Per FMCSA regulations, truck drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours per 14-hour workday. Drivers must then take a 10-hour break and maintain logs of their time behind the wheel
These strict guidelines help keep truckers and other drivers safe while transporting dangerous materials or weights.
Are There Laws and Regulations That Apply to Semi-Trucks?
Some truck laws most critical to truck accident liability include:
- Securing Cargo:
- Cargo must be tied down or secured properly. It cannot be loose or at risk of falling off the vehicle, as that would pose an enormous danger to other drivers.
- Required Vehicle Markings:
- Trucks are required to display their Department of Transportation-issued number, HAZMAT markings, and other identifications.
These safety features are meant to protect and inform you and other drivers on the road.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
Various parties may be held responsible for a truck accident. More than one party may be liable for your injuries in some cases. At Pierce Skrabanek PLLC, we can investigate your claim to determine all negligent parties are held accountable, including:
- The truck driver: When a truck driver acts negligently on the road or breaks the law, they may be held responsible for the accident. Examples of truck driver liability may be if they drove longer hours than permitted, took illegal drugs to stay alert, or drove drowsy.
- The trucking company: In some cases, the trucking company can be held liable under specific circumstances. If it can be proven the company pressure pushed the driver to meet deadlines in an unrealistic timeframe or cut corners on safety and maintenance.
- The owner of the truck: In some cases, the trucking company may lease the truck instead of owning it. The truck’s owner is responsible for general maintenance, repairs, and inspections. If an accident involves a commercial vehicle (waste management, UPS, FedEx, etc.), the owner of the vehicle can be held liable if their actions – or lack of actions – contributed to the crash.
- The owner of the freight: Tractor-trailers carry thousands of pounds of cargo all over the country. If the company that owns the cargo fails to load and tie down the cargo properly, they can be held liable for the accident.
- Manufacturer of the truck: A defective part or design flaw in a truck involved in a semi-truck crash means the manufacturer may be held liable. Examples of manufacturer failures may be faulty brakes, mechanical failure, or a blown tire.
- Third-party maintenance companies: A third-party company could bear responsibility for your truck accident if poor maintenance caused the crash. Poor tire or brake upkeep is to blame in most third-party maintenance cases.
Turn to our truck accident lawyers today to ensure your case is handled with skill and experience.
What if There Are Multiple Parties Liable for My Truck Accident?
After a truck accident, the trucking company, law enforcement, and your attorneys will conduct separate investigations into the collision and gather all critical evidence. If an investigation determines more than one liable party, you may be eligible to file multiple personal injury claims.
Trucking companies will work quickly through their investigation, sometimes repairing damaged tractor-trailers and putting them back on the road, effectively erasing evidence. A skilled truck accident attorney can act swiftly to ensure all evidence remains in existence, giving you the best chance of successfully recovering your full compensation.
Some critical evidence in truck accidents include:
- The truck’s black box or electronic records
- Daily inspections
- Maintenance and repair records
- Complaints filed against the driver
- All roadside and annual inspections
- The truck operator’s daily log sheets
- The driver’s reports, including inspection and repair information
- GPS records
- Trucking company records involving employee handbooks, policies, safety regulations and measures, or out-of-service orders
- Information on the truck driver, including credentials, employment history, training records, driving history, drug tests, medical history
- The driver’s speed and variations of speed leading up to the crash
- The length of time the truck driver operated the vehicle in each sitting
- The truck’s gear shifts
- Any communications between the truck driver and company
Your attorney can help safeguard this essential information by sending preservation letters to the trucking company, requesting a copy of the accident report from law enforcement, and ensuring the truck’s black box is kept secure.